Sophie Hayes, a young, educated woman, was spending an idyllic weekend in Italy with her seemingly charming boyfriend. However, on the day she planned to return home, everything changed. He made it clear that she wasn’t going anywhere. Soon Sophie’s bewilderment turned to fear as he punched and shouted at her and threatened to kill her adored younger brothers if she didn’t do exactly as she was told. Thus began six months of working the streets as a prostitute in a country where Sophie didn’t speak the language, where nobody knew her whereabouts, and escape seemed impossible.
Human Trafficking is the world’s fastest-growing crime, and we hope that each one of you will check out Sophie’s story to help raise awareness about this worldwide issue. A few of the stunning statistics on human trafficking’s impact in the first world:
- This year, over 700,000 women will be forced into sex slavery. Nearly 50% of them know their captors.
- There are an estimated 40,000 men, women and children enslaved in America today—in 83% of confirmed cases, victims are American-born citizens.
- In 1809, the average price of a slave was $40,000. Today, it’s less than $90.
- Total market value of illicit human trafficking is estimated to be in excess of $32 billion. It is the fastest-growing business of organized crime in the world.
Sophie has appeared in front of U.N. and Parliament, as well as on the BBC. She created The Sophie Hayes Foundation in January 2012 to raise awareness and support women affected by trafficking. Sophie will also be profiled in Marie Claire’s October issue, and she was interviewed on NPR’s Diane Rehm Show on October 3, which you can listen to now.
***ABOUT THE SOPHIE HAYES FOUNDATION***
The Sophie Hayes Foundation was set up and inspired by Sophie in January 2012. Since Sophie’s return to the UK she has been relentless in her work in order to make a difference and change perceptions, Human Trafficking is one of the world’s fastest growing crimes, Sophie brings to life that this could happen to anyone, Sophie could be your sister, your daughter, your friend…. Sophie could be just like you….